Tag Archives: Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside– walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
-Mr. Freeman

Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman at Merryweather High who, just before school started, called the cops at a party. Everyone hates her– she’s left alone, desperate to fit in with someone. But they don’t know what really happened at the party, and when the story gets out, nothing will be the same.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s nearly impossible to talk about this book without doing so, so this will be a fairly short review. This is one powerful book. It says so much, while Melinda says so little. But getting this look inside of the mind of a girl who has been through everything Melinda has– it’s powerful stuff. This is one of those books that really makes you think about how you treat other people, and it should not be missed.

Speak also has a Lifetime movie adaption, which I’m unsure whether to watch because A. I hate Lifetime and B. I don’t know if it’ll be worth it. The cast includes Kristen Stewart as Melinda, that kid from Sky High, and Steve Zahn, which I find to be a very strange cast, so yeah. If I do watch it, I’ll let you guys know whether it’s worth it.

And although I really like the story, I think the most powerful thing about the entire book is Laurie Halse Anderson’s little poem at the beginning. I don’t think all of the versions of this book include the poem, considering it’s about people’s reactions to the book, and it has some spoilers, but I’d like to share it here:

LISTEN

You write to us
from Houston, Brooklyn, Peoria, Rye, NY,
LA, DC, Everyanywhere USA to my mailbox, My
Space Face
Book
A livejournal of bffs whispering
Onehundredthousand whispers to Melinda and
Me.

You:
I was raped, too
sexually assaulted in seventh grade,
tenth grade, the summer after graduation
at a party
i was 16
i was 14
i was 5 and he did it for three years
i loved him
i didn’t even know him.
He was my best friend’s brother,
my grandfather, father, mommy’s boyfriend,
my date
my cousin
my coach
i met him for the first time that night and–
four guys took turns, and–
i’m a boy and this happened to me, and–

. . . I got pregnant I gave up my daughter for adoption . . .
did it happen to you, too?
U 2?

You:
i wasn’t raped, but
my dad drinks, but
i hate talking, but
my brother was shot, but
i am outcast, but
my parents split up, but
i am clanless, but
we lost our house, but
i have secrets– seven years of secrets
and i cut
myself my friends cut
we all cut cut cut
to let out the pain

. . . my 5-year-old cousin was raped– he’s beginning to act out now . . .
do you have suicidal thoughts?
do you want to kill him?

You:
Melinda is a lot like this girl I know
No she’s a lot like
(me)
i am MelindaSarah
i am MelindaRogelio i am MelindaMegan,
MelindaAmberMelindaStephenToriPhillipNavdiaTiara-
MateoKristinaBeth
it keeps hurting, but
but
but
but
this book cracked my shell
it keeps hurting I hurt, but
but your book cracked my shell.

You:
I cried when I read it.
I laughed when I read it
is that dumb?
I sat with the girl–
you know, that girl–
I sat with her because nobody sits with her at lunch
and I’m a cheerleader, so there.
speak changed my life
cracked my shell
made me think
about parties
gave me
wings this book
opened my mouth
i whispered, cried
rolled up my sleeves i
hate talking but
I am trying.

You made me remember who I am.
Thanks.

PS. Our class is gonna analyze this thing to death.

Me:
Me:
Me: weeping

With the exceptions of the first and last stanzas, this poem comes from lines and words taken from the thousands of letters and e-mails that Laurie has gotten in the past twelve years.

That’s all. I’ll leave you to digest that. Thanks for reading!

-J

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Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted

“Why bother trying?  What was the point?  So I could go to some suck-ass college, get a diploma, march out into a job that I hated, marry a pretty girl who would want to divorce me, but then she wouldn’t because we’d have kids, so instead she’d be the angry woman at the other end of the kitchen table, and the kids would grow up watching this, until one day I’d look at my son and he’d look just like that face in the bathroom mirror?
If that was life, then it was twisted.”
-Tyler

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world. (Summary credited to Goodreads.com)

I have mixed feelings on this book. I kept waiting for it to get better, for a real story to develop, for something, but it never came. In that aspect, this book irritated me. On the other hand, the characters were well-developed and generally likable, making my hate for the story especially frustrating. The main character, Tyler, is a hardworking, dysfunctional teen who knows what it’s like to be both popular and unpopular. His best friend, Calvin, aka Yoda, is a Star Wars-obsessed non-athlete with a crush on Tyler’s younger sister. Bethany is easily the most popular girl in the school, coming from a rich family and used to getting what she wants. See the variety of these characters? And that’s only three of the numerous characters featured in this book. So, overall, it was okay. Definitely wouldn’t recommend it, and don’t want to read it again, but it was good for a one-time thing.

Well, there’s not much else to say. I apologize for this not being the book that’s a big change like I promised, but that one will have to wait– I couldn’t really pay attention from the start, so it’ll most likely take me a while to read, and I don’t really want a take-forever book at the moment. Anyway, the next review will be here soon– most likely Monday or so. See you then!

-J

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls

“I could say I’m excited, but that would be a lie. The number doesn’t matter. If I got down to 070.00, I’d want to be 065.00. If I weighed 010.00, I wouldn’t be happy until I got down to 005.00. The only number that would ever be enough is 0.”
-Lia

When best friends Lia and Cassie begin a contest to see who can be the skinniest, everything goes downhill. After not speaking to each other for months, Lia discovers that her best friend has died. Now alone, Lia struggles to recovver from Cassie’s death and her ongoing anorexia before she disappears.

Although I really dislike the title, Wintergirls is one of those incredible heartbreaking books that you can’t help but read more than once. The story is extremely depressing, as is Lia’s eating disorder and self-harm, but in a way it’s also sort of inspiring.

I know this is a very, very short review, but there isn’t a whole lot to say. This is the most accurate portrayal of an eating disorder that I’ve found so far, along with numerous other struggles, so this should be your number one choice if you’re looking for a story about dealing with an eating disorder. Other than that, this is just an all-around good book and I believe it should be read by absolutely everyone. People need to understand the difficulties that others go through, and this would definitely show them.

-J

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